What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dentist who is a specialist in guiding teeth into an ideal spot in the mouth and aligns the jaws in a harmonious relationship. There are three steps in an orthodontist’s education: college, dental school and orthodontic residency program. Similar to a pediatric dentist, it can take 10 or more years of education after high school to become an orthodontist. After completing college requirements, the prospective orthodontist attends dental school. Upon graduation, the future orthodontist must be accepted* as a student in an accredited orthodontic residency program, then successfully complete a minimum of two academic years of study. The orthodontic student learns the skills required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).
• Only those who have successfully completed this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists.”
• Orthodontists limit their scope of work to orthodontics only.**
• Orthodontists are uniquely qualified in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of orthodontic problems. They dedicate their professional lives to creating healthy, beautiful smiles in children, teens and adults. Well-aligned teeth are more than attractive: they make it possible to bite, chew and speak effectively. Orthodontic care is often part of a comprehensive oral health plan.
• Orthodontists use a variety of “appliances,” including braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. Because of orthodontists’ advanced education and clinical experience, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment goals.
• Only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the American Association of Orthodontists.
*On average, there are about 15 applicants for every opening.
**Unless they have also completed specialty education in another dental specialty recognized
When should my child see an orthodontist?
The AAO recommends all children should be screened for orthodontic problems by an orthodontist no later than age 7.
Here are reasons why children should be seen by an orthodontist by age 7:
Orthodontists can detect subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. While your child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect. The check-up may reveal that your child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
Early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
• Guide jaw growth
• Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
• Correct harmful oral habits
• Improve appearance
• Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
• Improve the way lips meet
• Through an early orthodontic evaluation, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile.
Because patients differ in both physiological development and treatment needs, the orthodontist’s goal is to provide each patient with the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time. (source AAO.org)
What is the difference between a pediatric dentist and a general dentist?
A pediatric dentist specializes in treating infants, children, adolescents, and those with special needs. A pediatric dentist has two or three years of specialty training after dental school. That adds up to a total of 10 years or more of education beyond high school. He or she is best qualified to meet the special needs of children and their oral health.
What is a Diplomate or a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist?
The American Board of Pediatric Dentistry certification assures the public that a pediatric dentist has successfully completed accredited pediatric dental residency training post dental school and completed a voluntary rigorous series of examinations to become a Diplomate. It recognizes the value of renewal of the certification and continuing education for its diplomates to ensure their desire to practice pediatric dentistry at the highest level. For more information, please visit ABPD.org
When should I take my child to the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that the first dental visit should take place shortly after the first tooth comes in or no later than the child's first birthday. Thereafter, a routine visit every six months can help prevent unnecessary dental treatment.
Why are baby teeth important?
Primary teeth or "baby" teeth are important for a number of reasons. They provide proper function and help maintain good nutrition for your child. Baby teeth are important in speech development and reserve the space for the permanent teeth. Early loss of primary teeth from decay or trauma can affect the permanent teeth. Finally, a healthy smile builds confidence.
What can I do for my child's toothache?
You can rinse the area with warm salt water; floss the area to remove any impacted food; apply a cold compress on face if it is swollen; give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain, and see your dentist as soon as possible.
How can parents prevent tooth decay?
Good oral hygiene at home removes bacteria and leftover food that combines and form cavities.
1) For infants, use a wet washcloth to wipe the teeth and gums. Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle with milk, juice, or any sugar containing drink.
2) For older children, brush their teeth twice a day, eat a well-balanced diet, and avoid frequent snacking on foods containing sugar. Also, remember to floss at least once a day to prevent cavities and other dental diseases.
3) Drink only water between snacks and meals
4) Visit your pediatric dentist every six months
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are clear or shaded plastic protective coatings placed on back teeth to prevent cavities. These teeth tend to have natural groves and pits where most cavities begin in children.
What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?
You should remain calm. First find the tooth, hold it by the crown, and avoid handling the root. If it's dirty, rinse it gently in cool water, replace the tooth in the socket, and hold in place with a cloth. If you cannot place the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a glass of milk.
Call and go to see your pediatric dentist immediately.
How can I prevent dental injuries?
You can reduce mouth injuries for children by having them wear mouthguards when participating in sports. Always use a car seat for young children and require everyone to wear their seat belts in the car. Child proof your home to prevent falls and electrical injuries such as children biting on electrical cords. Finally, you can prevent unnecessary toothaches with regular dental preventive care.
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous Oxide, commonly referred to as "laughing gas," is a colorless, almost odorless gas. When it is inhaled, it has a calming effect on the patient. The relaxed state it produces in the patient allows him to respond more favorably to treatment. Nitrous oxide is very safe. The child remains fully awake and alert and can respond easily to stimuli. It is eliminated quickly from the body with normal breathing.
What is conscious sedation?
Conscious sedation is a minimally depressed level of consciousness that retains the patient's ability to independently and continuously maintain an airway and respond appropriately to physical stimulation or verbal command. For phobic or fearful patients who want to be totally relaxed and have little memory of their appointment, conscious sedation is often recommended.
What is general anesthesia?
General anesthesia is a management technique that uses medications to cause the child to become unconscious and asleep while receiving dental care. It is provided by a physician or dentist who has special training in anesthesia. Children with severe anxiety and/or inability to cooperate are candidates for general anesthesia. These children may be young or have compromised health or special needs. They usually require extensive dental treatment and their anxiety cannot be controlled with conscious sedation techniques.